Season 3 of “The Good Doctor,” especially the second half, felt like it was meant to do course correction and present fans with long-desired moments and open them to new possibilities.
|Dr. Glassman||Richard Schiff|
|Dr. Lim||Christina Chang|
|Alex||Will Yun Lee|
|Dr. Melendez||Nicholas Gonzalez|
|Dr. Andrews||Hill Harper|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
Season Plot Synopsis
The focus of season 3 of “The Good Doctor” is dealing with the trauma and issues which bridle you from living your best life. For Shaun, that is dealing with the idea his autism will limit his ability to find love and secure it in life. This is primarily shown through Lea’s rejection of him, despite Carly bending over backwards to figure out a way for things to work between them.
As for the others? Claire is learning to deal with loss. Not just in terms of death, but also the loss of a childhood, and we watch as she finally goes to therapy and attempts to manage her feelings. That is, alongside the struggle to maintain other people’s expectations and the role they want her to play in their personal and work life.
Then with Morgan, like Claire, she is also dealing with perceptions. However, with her, it deals with accepting and owning some of it, like being gruff, yet pushing back when it comes to her family and them devaluing her work as a surgeon. And from there, it goes on and on. We have Dr. Glassman’s relationship with Debbie and trying to make that work, Dr. Lim figuring out how to deal with the human resources part of her job, and just a general pursuit of happiness. Which, for most characters, is a struggle because their job is so taxing that they barely have time to take care of their mental health, emotional well being, and recharge.
Meet The Parents
In this season, we finally meet Shaun’s parents but also get to meet Morgan’s mom and her family. This was major for both characters don’t seem molded so much by their friends or environment, but who their parents are, or were. With Morgan having an artistic family, you can get her wanting to be a surgeon, for it allows her to shown her dexterity without pursuing the arts and the ebbs and flow of employment that industry brings. Plus, it allows her to expand, for future generations, what the family offers and means since everyone in her family, but her, is an artist. And it seems that isolation, that need to prove and compete, that is what gives us the often nasty Morgan we have come to love.
Then, when it comes to Shaun, our understanding of his parents came from when Steve was alive. So we saw them as Shaun did as a kid and were allowed to make assumptions and theories. Of which included the idea maybe his mom was abused and scared, hence why she let both of her boys be out in the world and didn’t track them down. Because that always felt like the elephant in the room – why is it Shaun’s mother didn’t reach out, and they didn’t have some kind of relationship?
Well, we get our answer this season, and it is heartbreaking. She chose a man over her kid and then with Shaun’s dad, you get this weird mix of wanting to make amends, since he is dying, but also the need to be the victim. And it is in watching those two interact that you see the heart of every insecurity Shaun has and that, even with it being ten to twenty years since last in each other’s presence, his dad still has a profound effect on him.
But, unfortunately, while we meet Shaun’s parents, the show still doesn’t complete the bridge from him being cast aside by them, to going into foster care, and then Dr. Glassman being his primary caregiver.
Shaun Wanting To Be More and Have More Despite What His Autism Brings To The Table
As the depiction of marginalized people increases in diverse forms, there is no denying what Shaun brings to the conversation about men with autism. Be it their capabilities as romantic partners, their work lives, or how they deal with a label that helps explain to people why they are different rather than what’s wrong with them.
This season, the show dies down on people poking and prodding Shaun’s abilities and trajectory as a doctor and focuses on what kind of love life, if any, he can have. Which pushes us past the romanticizing of how honest and forward people with autism can be, and takes note of the day to day. It takes on the challenges they can have with intimacy, timing, and learning how to adapt to others and what their needs are. And while we still firmly see Carly as someone who prepped Shaun for his eventual romance with Lea, seeing her struggles gave us what not too many other shows featuring someone with autism have showcased.
When it comes to Alex, he is one of those characters that just never caught on for us. He doesn’t give you a love to hate vibe, like Morgan, or a love and want better for vibe, like Claire. He doesn’t even exist in a happy middle. Alex just seems like a spoiler of moments and someone who they tried to do solo work with, when taking note of his wife and son, but that didn’t click as they thought. So then they tried to pair him with Morgan, Claire, even Shaun at times, but it didn’t create the chemistry desired. However, rather than give up and write him off, there is a desire to continue and try to figure what niche Alex can fit rather than cut him to benefit the more stronger characters. Leaving you to wonder, if to honor the fact this show originated in South Korea, is Alex’s presence meant to keep “The Good Doctor” from erasing the people who made it worth adapting?
On The Fence
The Storylines Of People Not Named Shaun
One of our consistent struggles with “The Good Doctor” is being reminded it is not an ensemble show. This is Shaun’s show, which does strongly feature his peers but is by no means about them. Hence why, just as Claire or Morgan’s storyline seems to ramp up, it gets cut off. They aren’t supposed to be on par with Shaun. Are they supposed to have lives and be seen as developed? Yes. But Shaun is the star, his story is the hook, and he is not going to compete for the spotlight.
And with that, it leaves you in a state of constant wanting that grows in frustration. Especially since, at times, Shaun can become annoying, and you may feel like you need time apart to rediscover why you fell in love with him and the show. So with every storyline stopped before it hit its climax, or falling off and a character being benched, it creates this imbalance. One that pushes you to wonder if the show isn’t sure how to balance its supporting cast vs. its star. Much less, how much of each person’s life should revolve around the star or respect them as individuals?
Review Summary: One and Done
Rating: Mixed (Stick Around)
I feel like we have to admit that a part of us feels fatigued by “The Good Doctor.” 20 episodes feels like a lot, and as much as we appreciate Shaun’s journey, we don’t find Shaun to be the only hook when it comes to this show. Our interest in him is parallel to the others, and the reminder that this isn’t an ensemble creates an almost disdain for Shaun since we sometimes want a break from him. Especially the push that if your storyline doesn’t involve or revolve around Shaun, it will be clipped at the knees once it can appear you are matching the importance of his story.
Hence the mixed label. “The Good Doctor” continues to be a highlight in representation. However, it’s fight between showing the world outside of Shaun and yet still reminding you the focus is this microcosm, it can create a frustrating experience. One certainly not aided by the usual network TV ridiculous episode order that makes things feel less concise and more bloated.
Season 4 of ABC’s The Good Doctor
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?
Yes, it has, but with COVID-19 shutting the entertainment industry down, who knows if it’ll premiere during its usual timeslot in the fall.
What Do We Expect From The Next Season?
For Shaun, I’d submit we may begin to move on from the challenge of him being in a relationship or being a doctor, in terms of working with patients. His challenge for season 4 might be having to learn to work with nurses and, since he is coming upon his final years as a resident, learning how to deal with workplace politics. Thus far, Shaun has gotten by on his medical knowledge and, one could say, that compensated for what can sometimes be seen as a nasty attitude. If not one so honed in on an idea or fault, it rubbed others the wrong way.
As for everyone else? We strongly hope to see Dr. Lim take on a mentorship role and absorb the time Dr. Melendez formerly took up. Especially with Claire since they both lost someone they were close to and loved deeply.
In terms of Morgan? A part of me wants to see her deal with what Shaun almost had to, and that is deal with the fact the dream she had for herself would have to be revised. For if there is one thing Morgan proved this season is that she is adaptable. Maybe not the type who evolves and becomes better, but she will take note of her audience, what she can do, and what she can get away with.
Leaving Dr. Glassman and Dr. Andrews, since Lea probably won’t be more than Shaun’s girlfriend. With Dr. Andrews, like they revisited Claire’s old storyline this season, I’d like for his wife to return, and there be some conversation about him and her having kids and starting a family. Then, with Dr. Glassman, I just don’t want Debbie back. Like with Alex, I don’t feel like they bring a whole lot to the show besides a headache. So one can only hope Dr. Glassman’s role might be guiding Shaun, as Claire is guided by Dr. Lim, in positioning themselves to eventually be chosen as the new hire.